Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months

Dozens of people gathered outside the charred remnants of a suburban Halifax home Tuesday night to mourn the loss of seven children killed in a fast-moving fire and to show support for the injured, grieving parents left behind.

They carried flowers and wept openly in the frigid darkness, looking for solace in the company of neighbours and listening to a Christian pastor attempt to gather community strength for the Muslim refugees from Syria beginning to make a new life in Canada.

Josh Crawford sang “Amazing Grace” and said they all needed to draw upon their faith to recover from the tragedy.

“The next couple of days are going to be hard, but it’s going to be the weeks and the months to come that this family is going to need you the most,” said Crawford, whose mother teaches at the school attended by the two oldest children.

The fire struck not long after midnight on Tuesday morning. Neighbours said they were awoken by a woman’s screams and looked out to see flames that quickly engulfed the entire upper floor.

The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months, having moved into Halifax from Elmsdale, N.S., to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services.

They had fled war-torn Syria and, with the help of a private sponsorship group, came to Canada in September 2017. A spokesperson for the group said the family had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.

Natalie Horne, vice-president of the Hants East Assisting Refugees Team, identified the father as Ebraheim Barho and the mother as Kawthar Barho. She said the children who died are: Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada in November.

Ebraheim Barho, who was badly burned while trying to rescue his kids, was fighting for his life Tuesday. Kawthar Barho was also injured, but is expected to survive.

Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign launched to help the parents was quickly gathering support.

The GoFundMe page entitled “Halifax House Fire Tragedy” had collected more than $217,000 of its stated $300,000 goal with donations from more than 4,400 people as of 8:00 a.m. local time Wednesday.

The effort is organized by family friends and the Imam Council of Halifax.

The call to gather for the vigil went out on a community Facebook page and more than 100 people responded.

They added more flowers, candles and teddy bears to a memorial propped up against a light standard in front of the house.

“What brought me here was those children that lost their lives,” said Fran Kirby, who brought flowers. ”It’s a shame for those children, and those parents. I don’t even understand how anybody could tell a parent (their children had died).”

Her friend Heather Bennett was in tears as she talked about her own three-year-old boy.

“It hit home,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax fire

Iain McLaren and Kristen MacDiarmid said they moved into the neighbourhood two years ago and wanted to show their support to the community that had welcomed them.

“When you hear about these things in the media, you think these happen so far away, but today it happened so close and to have it happen to a family that’s from Syria, it’s just a devastating blow to the neighbourhood,” McLaren said.

Crawford said the emotional gathering was an important gesture for the people who came and for the grieving parents who couldn’t.

“It speaks volumes to the family — a father who can’t be here right now and the mother who is by her husband’s side,” he said. “It just shows that we as a community are standing together and here for this family.”

A funeral for the children is expected Wednesday or Thursday.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Alberni Valley Transition Town talks green planning

March 20 talk features Jack Anderson, speaking of innovative building techniques

Port Alberni’s firefighters learn to save themselves in ground survival training

Specialized training equipment brought in for Ground Survival Program

Port Alberni RCMP have their eyes on impaired drivers

March 17 to 23 is National Impaired Driving Prevention Week

Premier on hand as Paper Excellence finalizes Catalyst Paper purchase

Sale includes Crofton mill, plus mills in Port Alberni and Powell River

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Vancouver Island cougar might have been shot with bow-and-arrow

Conservation officer service looking for animal near Port Alice

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Most Read